Successful Graduates Testify to the Effectiveness of the English Curriculum at Ursuline College
Charlotte Blasier (2001): Children’s Librarian
As a children’s librarian, I use my English degree on a daily basis, for example, I exercise my writing skills when preparing press releases or book reviews. I enjoy helping young adults pick out “classics” for reading assignments and sharing with them some of my favorites. The creativity I utilized in various English classes I now apply to developing story times for young children or programs for school-age children. I employ critical thinking skills in maintaining a collection or creating reading guides for students.
Being a good writer means being a good communicator. I believe that my communication skills were among the main reasons I was hired as a children’s librarian. Whether it is communicating effectively with my coworkers about various projects or communicating with the public to determine their needs, a librarian must exhibit good communication. My knowledge of literature also enabled me to find my career. English majors, of course, love to read, so the library is like a utopia to them! My love for books was just another quality that made me perfect for my profession.
Molly Carroll (2010): Media Specialist, Ursuline College
I currently work in Ursuline College’s Media Center, located in the library. My job entails setting up media equipment (speakers, microphones, LCD projectors, laptops, screens, etc.); filming campus events and editing them (for cataloguing in the library or for uploading to the college website or the on-line course management system); troubleshooting media issues in classrooms; and managing the Media Center’s VHS and DVD collection. A very important part of my job is being able to communicate effectively with faculty, staff and students. This includes helping them to understand and to use media equipment unfamiliar to them. My English degree helps me a great deal in this area because being an English major taught me valuable communication skills.
My English degree qualified me for my position as a Media Specialist because, first of all, I knew how to effectively present myself as a viable candidate; I was well prepared to write a resume and to communicate effectively during my interview. My English degree specifically helped me get my job in the Media Center because of my familiarity with the library setting, my ability to conduct research, my familiarity with cataloguing, and my facility in both verbal and written communication. I continue to use all of these skills on a daily basis, as well as those of critical thinking and problem solving, which my English major also helped me to foster.
Elizabeth Corrao (2004, Art and Psychology Major, English Minor): Editor and Research Fellowship Coordinator, The Cleveland Clinic
As an editor and research fellowship coordinator in the department of colorectal surgery, I am responsible for editing medical manuscripts, grants, personal statements, posters, and slide presentations written by our staff physicians and fellows, as well as training our physician fellows on the process of conducting research at the Cleveland Clinic. I earned my BA in psychology and art, with a minor in English, at Ursuline College in 2004 and completed an MA in English at the University of Akron in 2012. My combination of degrees has proved to be an invaluable asset to my job. In the medical research field, organization and communication skills are no less valued than skill in the sciences, especially in cases where information must be relayed clearly and concisely. An understanding of how to write effective prose is crucial in medical research, since a grant application or research manuscript, once submitted to a panel of reviewers, must stand alone as an effective argument. In such cases, quality writing can make all the difference between whether or not a project is funded, published, or rejected by the journal or committee to which it was submitted.
I began working at the clinic as a research assistant in 2008 and was told that the department was in need of someone who could assist our international research fellows by editing their manuscripts. I began to edit part-time, while also working on departmental databases and clinical research studies. Since then, I have begun a free-lance medical editing business, and been promoted to edit full time, as well as coordinate the departmental research fellowship program. My other duties include writing and working with a publisher to produce our patient education newsletter, which is sent annually to several thousand surgical patients throughout the US. I have also had the opportunity to develop various educational tools to assist our fellows as they learn how to conduct research in the United States. By far the most rewarding aspect of working in medical research is that I continuously see the positive impact that the work we do has on people’s lives.
Here is a link to the clinic website featuring PDFs of my past newsletter issues: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/digestive_diseases/patients/newsletters.aspx
Amanda Horan (2004): Coordinator, Classified Sales Department, Scene Magazine, Cleveland, OH
Our department at Scene Magazine primarily sells employment, real estate, rental and music ads. My job essentially entails keeping track of which ads have sold and how much money each person in my department has sold in ads. I am also in charge of making visuals, creating and executing department contests, assembling media kits, mailing tear sheets, and various other miscellaneous tasks thrown in my direction. Recently, I have been given the opportunity to sell classified ads in addition to my other responsibilities.
My degree in English not only helped me develop my writing skills, essential for my current position, but my critical thinking skills as well. While I was undergoing the interview process at Scene Magazine, I was asked to review the magazine and formulate twenty questions about it. During my third interview, my director and publisher at the time said, “Part of the reason we have decided to hire you is because you asked the most insightful and complex questions of all the other applicants.” My English skills consistently come into play, for example, when I must give detailed directions to other national coordinators in my company to ensure that the national ads we place from Cleveland are properly copies and priced in other cities. Along these same lines, I am able to give descriptive directions for sales representatives to use when they are learning new computer software programs. Finally, I exercise creativity in creating visuals and motivating my department to earn as much revenue as possible.
Aimee Jannsohn (2004): Marketing Communications Associate, The Pilgrim Press & United Church Press, Cleveland, OH
As a Marketing Communications Associate, I write and edit copy for the back covers of books, two seasonal trade catalogs, an annual curricula catalog, print and other media advertising, flyers, signage, and other marketing materials. In addition, I prepare and distribute press releases for all new books and authors and maintain review lists as well as send out books for review. With our Marketing Director, I plan marketing campaigns for new and backlist books. When necessary, I also travel to staff sales exhibitions, conferences, meetings and other events.
Ursuline College’s English program has prepared me for my career in numerous ways. The high quality and diversity of the English courses I took—everything from literature to writing to grammar and usage—continues to play a major role in my everyday responsibilities. Furthermore, the skills I developed and the knowledge I gained throughout my education at Ursuline has given me the confidence to handle the challenges that lie ahead in my career. In this sense, Ursuline continues to prepare me for my career.
Julie Kalista (2004): Online Editor, Machine Design Magazine, Cleveland, OH
As an online editor for Machine Design Magazine, published by Penton Media, I write seven engineering e-newsletters on topics such as aerospace, motors, packaging, mechanics and electronics. My time is divided equally between researching and writing short news articles on these topics. I also have to find specific products and events that relate directly to these topics. If information is incomplete, I also contact companies, via e-mail and telephone interviews, for more information about the products. In February 2007, I attended my first tradeshow, complete with a press badge, to conduct in-person interviews with manufacturers.
Ursuline College helped me get my current position mostly by building my self-confidence. After a year-long struggle of looking for a writing job, I interviewed with Penton, and because of the confidence in my skills and abilities I acquired from my Ursuline education, I convinced the interviewer that I would be a good fit for the company. In fact, she was so impressed that she found me an editorial position rather than one in circulation!
Obviously, the research and writing skills I developed as an English major at Ursuline daily aid me in my editorial position. The experience of giving oral presentations in classes while I attended Ursuline, as well as the many communication skills I learned overall, are invaluable when speaking at meetings and conducting interviews with clients. I love that Ursuline focuses on women and how women learn best. All of my teachers were so dedicated to ensuring that we would succeed, and I am therefore forever grateful to Ursuline!
Mindi Leatham (2002): Free-Lance Writer/ Event Coordinator/ Marketing Consultant, Chandler, AZ (www.WriteMinded.net) Ursuline College’s English Program prepared me for a multi-faceted career in writing. After graduating in 2002, I completed an internship at Formula PR where I wrote press releases, case studies, advertisements, etc., for various companies. The writing experience and knowledge of the industry I gained from this internship enabled me to get a job as a staff writer for Décor and Style Magazine. After a year with Décor and Style, I felt confident to leave the staff and try freelancing. I wrote regularly for Garden Compass Magazine and The San Diego Gallery Guide and teamed up with Theta Interactive, a web and software design firm, to write for businesses in need of marketing material. Although I continue to do marketing writing, I am also writing children’s fiction.
When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite writers was Madeleine L’Engle. In her book, A Ring of Endless Light, a character advises a young writer to read as much as possible and study the technical elements of writing. I took this character’s advice to heart and discovered that majoring in English would allow me to do these things. I enrolled at Ursuline College, my “dream” college in every way. The diversity of courses, excellent professors, and clear guidance I received helped form a bridge to my core, my identity and creativity. It is rare when life’s events dance around you, perfectly in sync and moving out of love, but that is what happened to me at Ursuline. I will always remember my entire Ursuline experience with awe, affection and gratitude.
Sarah Lovequist (1998): Litigation Attorney
Currently, I am a litigation attorney practicing in the areas of insurance subrogation, business and commercial law, and international business and commercial law. I am responsible for all new insurance files that come into the firm and am involved in most other litigation matters. When a new file comes in, I review it, file the initial pleadings, conduct depositions, write motions, and handle the matter through to settlement or trial, which includes attending court hearings and negotiating with opposing counsel. I am also responsible for writing articles for the firm’s website and list serves.
Ursuline College prepared me for my career by providing me with a safe environment in which to explore varied interests while also encouraging me to take risks and develop new interests. Ursuline, in general, is a supportive community that is concerned with fostering and preparing women to be confident and successful in their chosen careers. The English program in particular helped me develop my writing and communication skills, which I use daily in my profession, and also taught me how to think critically and analyze situations, depicted in novels, poems, essays, etc., to find deeper meanings and underlying themes. This critical thinking process prepared me for the demands of law school and a litigation career as I am constantly prepared to think quickly and critically and know how to “look below the surface” for underlying issues and meaning--skills required by the legal world.
Sarah-Catherine Maher (1998): Director, Methods and Procedures, The Sherwin-Williams Company
As Director of Methods and Procedures for Paint Stores Group at Sherwin-Williams, I am responsible for overseeing the research, writing, and publication of both our Paint Store Manager Policy and Procedure Manual and District Manager Handbook, reference materials which document our business practices and system procedures used in managing a paint store and also provide the basis for our internal audit process. As a liaison between the technical groups and the business, I lead the group that develops and presents live training and e-learning for new software and acquisitions. Rounding out my team’s role in documentation and communication, I manage all electronic communication mediums between management and our field employees including content management and publication for our stores’ intranet, forms repository, calendar, mass emails and messaging, and web conferencing.
I’d turn to Samuel Beckett to best describe my work: “James Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can.” However, technical writing requires one to play both authors: first, Joyce, gathering facts and ideas while drafting; then, Beckett, distilling to the core message.
Effective communication underlines every role I play. While writing is a base skill required for the responsibilities of my position, I find that other skills I learned as an English major at Ursuline prepared me in useful ways I could not have forseen as a student. Exhaustive research and due diligence in fact-checking are requisite to development of policy and procedure. Adjusting my writing style to tailor a single communication for publication in multiple media or to address the needs of different employees ensures that messages are created in the most appropriate medium and are clear to the reader. No single skill set has better served me than that of critical thinking and analysis. The ability to assess situations and measure them against pre-existing conditions and make recommendations and suggestions has provided me a solid foundation on which to build a career.
Carole Nittskoff (2003): Human Resource Manager and Grant Administrator, Cleveland Medical Devices Inc.
When I entered Ursuline College as a non-traditional student, my love of literature, diversity of knowledge and communication skills soon became realized as an English major. I had worked in medical education at major hospitals but never realized the growth potential available through a liberal arts education, particularly in English, until I began at Ursuline. In my current position as human resource manager and grant administrator at Cleveland Medical Devices Inc. (http://www.clevemed.com), I negotiate and manage all benefits regarding healthcare, life insurance, long-term disability, and 401k programs, to mention a few. I wrote our Policies and Procedures manual and keep it updated, as well as provide ongoing staff reviews of its contents. I recruit new employees and manage a strong internship program, maintained by outside funding. When we hire new employees, I work with them during orientation and as they get started; I then monitor their progress. Because we are a small business, I “wear several hats” and also administer various grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and oversee our regional Institutional Review Board (IRB), a governmental compliance committee that assures safety in medical clinical studies. I spend a good portion of my time reviewing, understanding, orchestrating rulings and editing information from governmental agencies. Clearly, my position at Cleveland Medical Devices Inc. provides me with many opportunities to use the analytical thinking, writing and problem-solving skills I developed by majoring in English. Also, my abilities in editing, proofreading, consolidating, and establishing procedures have proven to be advantageous in the changing world of business. Mostly, the self-assurance I gained as a result of the excellent education I received as an Ursuline English major gave me the ability to “stand in front of the crowd,” an asset that cannot be quantified and is truly valuable everyday on the job.
Alyssa Porter (2011): Production Associate with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program and Education Specialist at the Great Lakes Science Center
Pursuing a degree in English at Ursuline College allowed me many opportunities that I would not have had at other colleges or in other English programs. Just a couple of these opportunities were working on the production of the award-winning fine arts annual, Inscape, and being involved with the annual spring theater workshops. It was during my time at Ursuline that I made a discovery that shaped my future success outside of college: my talent for acting. Currently, I work with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program where I am able to share my love and talent for acting and theatre by mentoring high school students. I am involved with many aspects of the creative process from administration to stage management to directing and much more. An English degree from Ursuline gave me the fundamental theater skills necessary to pursue my current position within Kaiser Permanente, but my degree has also qualified me to work with a research-based theatre company, “Heads Up Productions,” in Akron and to break into the independent film community in Cleveland.
Perhaps more beneficial to my success in the arts are the verbal and written communication skills I acquired as an English major. Currently, I am using these skills as an Education Specialist at the Great Lakes Science Center. As a part of the Youth and Family Engagement Department, I have become an integral part in planning day camp sessions. I utilize my skills as a technical writer as I compile and edit documents and agreements for the Science Center’s first American Camp Association accreditation. I also have been given the opportunity to use my creative skills to develop curriculum. Of course, my verbal skills come in handy on a daily basis as I schedule field trips for the summer, run overnight camp-ins, and provide exciting programming for children and adults alike. I look forward to challenging my skills as an English major in the toughest arena yet: graduate school. I plan to pursue an advanced degree in Recreation Administration to work as a camp professional and research youth development in the camp setting, areas where my English skills are sure to be beneficial.
Eva Susnjar Hendricks (1994): Senior Brand Planner at a Cleveland-Based Advertising Agency
As a Senior Brand Planner at an advertising agency, my main responsibility is to translate all forms of knowledge (research data, journal articles, blog entries or just word-of-mouth) into valuable nuggets of information for the other departments at the agency. For instance, I might find an interesting way to look at some market research data and turn it into a consumer insight for the creative team to use as the foundation for an ad; or, I could brainstorm with the media department to help them determine which consumers we need to communicate with and the best way to reach those consumers. Sometimes, I’m asked to help out on new business pitches where the team needs to determine the business challenge a client is facing and which marketing solution(s) will help him or her be successful. And finally, as the title brand planner implies, I need to look at ways to position my clients’ brands in the most unique and meaningful way in the marketplace.
My English degree from Ursuline has helped me in my career--and sometimes in surprising ways. Obviously, I’m writing everyday whether it’s simply an email or a more complex proposal/presentation. I gained a love of writing and the skills for successful writing from all the great English professors at Ursuline. There are also more subtle gifts from studying English, one of which is a love and appreciation of literature and culture. This is important in my position because very often, it is a cultural insight that becomes the catalyst for developing really creative and interesting advertising. And maybe the most important benefit from my English degree is just the ability to think critically and creatively in any situation. Not only did this ability help me achieve my position in advertising, but it is a critical skill that I use everyday to complete my work.
Samantha Syracuse (2010): Graduate Student in English
I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in English at John Carroll University as a Graduate Assistant. While taking classes full time, I also teach Composition and Rhetoric to first-year students and work in partnership with John Carroll’s Writing Center and Services for Students with Disabilities department (SSD) to provide writing consultation for students seeking additional feedback or help with their writing. Previous to this position, I worked at a local publishing company proofreading textbooks and other educational materials.
Without a bachelor’s degree in English, I would not have considered applying for a graduate assistantship in the English department at John Carroll. My BA from Ursuline College provided the impetus and credentials I needed not only to enter graduate school, but also to teach first-year students the conventions of academic writing that will ultimately help them with writing in all academic settings.
I use my English skills on a daily basis in my own courses and in the courses I teach. For example, the research skills I learned in my classes at Ursuline still prove useful for writing my own graduate essays and seminar papers for presentation at conferences. Having gained a strong grasp on the processes of researching, writing, and generating citations has made it easier to convey the same ideas to my students who are entering college for the first time and for whom these skills will benefit most. Ursuline’s discussion-based curriculum helped me realize the best ways for me to learn and generate ideas. Without the four years I spent in Ursuline’s English department, I would not have had the confidence or experience to give presentations that I now accomplish daily as a graduate assistant. Furthermore, the analytical skills I learned in the English courses at Ursuline have made me a careful and ethical reader, writer, teacher and evaluator.
Marlene Walkush (2000): Administrative Assistant
During the interview process for my current position of Administrative Assistant, my employer stated that he liked my letter of personal introduction. He commented that it was well written and interesting. I owe that credit to the English Program at Ursuline College.
Because of my English major, I have “graduated” in my position to editing all written material that leaves our offices. My job covers all areas of English—content, style, grammar, mechanics and punctuation—and will continue to evolve in dimension because of computer technology opportunities. I am well satisfied with the education I received as an English major at Ursuline College. Not only has it prepared me for my job, but it gave me the added edge over others who were applying for the same position. I know I can write well, and I am grateful to Ursuline’s English Program for this.
Nedra Wrayno (2006): Management Position, Cleveland-Based Insurance Company
I coordinate and monitor continuing education needs for our internal insurance agents, which includes communications to these individuals as well as to various individuals in Human Resources, Legal and Management. As changes occur in our processes, it is my responsibility to document these accordingly and draft general communications that will be posted on our internal website. I also work with various external vendors and Department of Insurance contacts to resolve issues that arise. As a process expert, I also participate in various project initiatives that involve research, providing documentation and making recommendations.
My English major has been very practical in the business world. In the current corporate environment, most communications are done through e-mail. It is important to be able to express your thoughts concisely and to be able to write e-mail messages quickly. The ability to put my thoughts down clearly is essential to helping the people I work with understand their roles and guidelines for executing their daily responsibilities. It has also afforded me the confidence to be able to write communications directed toward various levels of the company and feel that I am able to write effectively for each specific audience. I also feel that my degree in English helps me when researching state information and understanding new processes as it has helped me develop my level of comprehension. The key to being successful in business is the ability to communicate well. A degree in English has provided me with fundamental skills required in the real world and also opens up new opportunities as businesses continue to expand their on-line products and internal web-based structure.